Health Care

Pesticides in fresh produce linked to lower reproductive rates in women

Pesticides in fresh produce linked to lower reproductive rates in women”

Senior investigator Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and his colleagues then matched the dietary responses with a USA government database of average pesticide residues on fresh fruit and vegetables to calculate a measure of the amount of pesticides the women were exposed to from their diet.

The results are pretty staggering: of those subjects who consumed more than 2.3 servings per day of high-residue fruits and vegetables, the study found an 18 percent lower probability of getting pregnant and a 23 percent lower probability of successfully giving birth. Although the authors say more research is needed, the study is the first to link pesticide residues in food with poorer pregnancy outcomes. The subjects self-reported what they ate, and the researchers took careful note of the amounts of fruits and vegetables associated with very high levels of pesticide residue, based on USDA data.

Scientists from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health studied the diets of more than 340 women seeking fertility treatment with assisted reproductive technologies.

Replacing one serving day of fruits and veggies with high levels of pesticide residue with different, lower-pesticide options could boost the odds of pregnancy by 79 percent and the chances of a live birth by 88 percent, researchers estimated. Low-pesticide produce includes avocados, corn and bananas. Researchers also relied on women to accurately recall and report on what they ate.

News that there may be a correlation between exposure to pesticides and infertility is not new; studies have previously tied higher rates of exposure to decreased male fertility. While I think we need more studies to confirm or refute our findings, I am now more willing to pay the extra money for organic apples and strawberries than I was when we started this project.

Whether conventionally grown or organic, fruits and vegetables are vital to a healthy diet.



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